California Child Support: Can I Use it to Pay Rent?

California child support covers only ordinary day-to-day living expenses for a child. The guideline formula considers the incomes of both parties, the number of children, and the time share that each parent has the child(ren) along with other deductions that come into play when calculating child support. The time share is an important factor because if one parent has the child(ren) more frequently, they are likely spending more money on expenses for them.   

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What is Child Support Used for?

A question that often arises is what California child support can legally be used for. The first thing to know is that whoever is paying child support does not get to dictate how the child support is used or require an accounting to show that their child support payments are going towards expenses for the child(ren). This is because there are many expenses related to the children that aren’t necessarily dollar for dollar because used solely for the children.

Can I Use Child Support to Pay Rent?

A frequently asked question is can I use child support to pay rent? The answer is simply yes, but it can be helpful to understand why that’s the case. In California since child support is used to pay for the ordinary living expense for a child, one of those expenses is having shelter for the child and this means that you can use your child support to pay your rent or your mortgage if you have one. Your child support can help cover some of these costs because when you have children your mortgage or rent is going to be more expensive than if it was just, you and you could go rent a one-bedroom place.  

Other Uses for California Child Support

  • Food: It can cover groceries as well as school lunches for the child(ren) 
  • Clothing: Can be used to buy clothing, which can include school uniforms or clothing for special activities (although some of those may be clothing that you and your co-parent are sharing the cost on) 
  • Utilities: In addition to rent and mortgage you can also use child support to pay for your utility bills for the residence the child is living in with you.  
  • Medical Care: In California, parents are required to have health insurance for their children and while the out-of-pocket medical costs is usually split equally, if you’re receiving child support then you can use your child support on your part of the medical costs. 
  • Transportation: It can be used for basic transportation costs such as gas, car maintenance, and insurance of your car since you need that to transport the child.  
  • Entertainment: Child support can cover age-appropriate toys, movies, plays, and other activities that you’re doing with your child.  
  • Education Costs, Extracurricular activities, and childcare: While these expenses are usually split equally between the parents if you are the one receiving the child support you can certainly use your child support to pay your portion of these expenses.  

We can help reduce your conflict and confusion around child support

When you go through mediation with us, we will accurately calculate child support and help you and your co-parent establish how other expenses will be paid. We will strive to predict possible future expenses and put guidelines in place so you and your co-parent will have the plan to resolve issues or conflicts as they arise. As your circumstances change, you may return to mediation as needed to modify any legal divorce documents.

by: Amanda Singer

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